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On correctly identifying the murders of Shia Muslims and other persecuted communities – by Dr. Taimur Rahman

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Some friends ask us, why is it important for you to emphasise the religious identify of the persecuted or/and minority communities that are attacked by terrorists. For instance, why do you write 10 Shias were killed, 12 Christians were murdered, 15 Ahmadis died and so on. But on other occasions you write 20 Pakistanis were killed? It is a good question and deserves a logical answer.

It is a fact that people are being killed all over Pakistan. Some are being killed in a low level conflict between political parties (Karachi). Others are being killed because of indiscriminate bomb blasts (blasts in market places). But some are being targeted for their religious beliefs (Ahmedi, Shia, Christian etc). This occurs clearly when churches, imam bargahs, and other worship places are attacked. Moreover, the perpetrators of the crime often take responsibility for the attack and make their motives very public (i.e. that they consider these minorities to be kafirs and worthy of being killed).

In the latter case, those victims are attacked not because of their political affiliation to any party or ideology. They are not victims because they just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time (in a market where a bomb exploded). They are not even targeted because they made any statement or undertook any political action. They were targeted because of their religious beliefs alone.

In such an instance, it is important for us to acknowledge the nature of the crime committed. It is important for us to acknowledge who the crime was committed against people of a certain faith BECAUSE of their faith.

If a bus falls down a ravine killing 10 Sunnis, 5 Shias, and 3 Christians. We would never mention their religious affiliation. We would also not write 6 PPP supporters, 9 PMLN supporters and 3 PTI supporters were victims of a bus falling down a ravine. Because their political affiliation is irrelevant to the incident.

But if someone is killed for their political, religious views, ethnic affiliation, colour of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, or such similar characteristic. Identifying those characteristics help us correctly represent the nature and motives of the crime.

For instance, if MQM workers are killed by ANP workers, or vice versa. It is only fair that we mention their political affiliation to correctly represent the nature of the incident. When Taliban target the ANP meetings, it is only fair to say 15 ANP workers were killed by the Taliban.

Hence, when Sunnis are killed because of their religious views it is just as important to mention that 10 Sunnis were killed in order to correctly represent the nature of the crime. The fact is that this is rare in Pakistan because Sunnis are the vast majority of the country and are rarely attacked on account of their religious views. (note: revenge strikes by Shia militias against banned terrorist outfit Sipah Sahaba Pakistan (SSP aka ASWJ) type organisations have not been indiscriminate attacks against Sunnis as a whole but only against SSP members. And yes in that case it is just as important to mention that x number of SSP members were killed).

[However, it is also important to keep in mind the Takfiri terrorist outfits (extremist off-shoot of Deobandi sect) who are attacking Shias, Ahamdis, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians are also killing Sunni Barelvis/Sufis. In the last few decades, thousands of Sunni Barelvis/Sufis have been killed by Takfiri Deobandi militant outfits through attacks on Sufi shrines in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar etc. Therefore, it is equally important to consider the heterogeniety of Pakistan’s large Sunni population and to distinguish it from the Takfiri Deobandi perpetartors of violence. Should we not condemn Sunni genocide taking place in Pakistan? – See more at: https://lubpak.net/archives/74672 LUBP]

The argument that is often presented against this correct representation of facts is that such representation will only increase the differences between people. It will lead to more Shia Sunni fighting.

In reality, the opposite is the case. It actually decreases differences because it reassures the attacked community that those making the statement understand the nature of the crime.

Imagine if you are attacked in the US for being a Pakistani. Some racist comes up to you and says “You Paki shit and beats you up just because you are Pakistani”. And if the press reports “a human being was attacked today in the US”. Wouldn’t you be pissed and ask why it wasn’t made clear that you were attacked for your nationality? Why the racist nature of the crime was hushed up.

Similarly, if a black person is attacked by the KKK and the press reports “An american citizen was attacked today”. That would be biased reporting because it would misrepresent the nature of the crime.

In fact, if the media or we fail to report such a hate crime as a hate crime, then it reinforces the view within the attacked community that there is a deep-seated bias and hatred for that community that prevents others from acknowledging the racist, classist, sexist, or religiously bigoted nature of that crime.

But if the nature of that crime is correctly reported, the attacked community feels a confidence in the media. They are relieved that the media understands the nature of the crime. And just this small gesture of understanding brings the attacked community infinitely closer to the majority. It cements the human bonds that bind people in the common cause against the extremist.

And that is what we need right now. We need the unity of all people, majority and minority, men and women, of languages, ethnicities, religious and broad democratic political affiliations, to unite against the fascist threat of extremism in Pakistan.

I leave you with the sobering thought that we cannot even dream of a future for Pakistan if the Taliban gain the upper hand in this conflict. Our victory over them has become a pre-requisite for us now, to reach all our other goals.

Source: facebook – with mninor edits.

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